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Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from Her Savannah Table Hardcover – May 9, 2001


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Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from Her Savannah Table + Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House Cookbook: A Celebration of Traditional Southern Dishes that Made Miss Mary Bobo's an American Legend
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (May 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580082572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580082570
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.7 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ninety-four year old Sema Wilkes has been running her boardinghouse in Savannah, Ga., since 1943, cooking up traditional Southern favorites biscuits, collard greens, hush puppies for a clientele of gentlemen farmers, Girl Scouts and Yankee tourists. Indeed, the remembrances of Mrs. Wilkes and her family and friends are so entertaining that the book is best approached as a memoir/oral history interrupted by recipes for soups, casseroles, fried delights and desserts. The book vividly portrays a few of the eatery's more irregular regulars, including one Spanish Civil War veteran who, always arriving via tricycle, ate there every weekday for three decades. Equally well-rendered are the strong women who have helped Mrs. Wilkes in the kitchen throughout the years, including the late Mildred Capers, who judged the doneness of her fried chicken by the sound of the oil in the fryer. But it's not clear how some of these dishes would fare outside of Mrs. Wilkes's delightful environs; the Fried Chicken recipe lists the needed ingredients: flour, evaporated milk, salt and pepper, but obviously, it is the context Southern hospitality, fresh ingredients and an experienced kitchen staff that make it special. Also, a few oddities included in the book would have perhaps been best left on the boardinghouse table a Tango Salad, for instance, with lemon gelatin, canned pineapple and pimentos. Nevertheless, this is a delightful homage to Southern life. (May)Forecast: The continuing interest in Southern food, along with an ecstatic blurb from Craig Claiborne, should help this book's sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sema Wilkes has presided over her Savannah, GA, dining room for 68 years. At age 94, she still tastes every dish before it comes out of the kitchen, but now there are three other generations of her family working in the restaurant. Although "Mrs. Wilkes' " was originally a typical boardinghouse, feeding only its dozen or so roomers, good food was always her focus, and it became a restaurant soon after she took over in the 1940s. Today, there are lines around the block of people waiting to taste her Southern food at least 13 different dishes at every meal and "the boardinghouse" has a national reputation. But the cooking is much as it always was (one of her cooks has been there since the1950s): Buttermilk Chicken, Corn Pudding, the biscuits that Craig Claiborne described as "one of the greatest things, ever, to happen" in his life. Coauthor Edge's readable text provides the history of the restaurant and the people involved in it. Recommended for all regional American cooking collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Oh so easy recipes and delicious!
Mimi
Her style of cooking is so much like my grandmother's that sometimes I can't remember whose recipe I used!!
Terri Davis
We were recently in Savannah and had the pleasure of eating lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Boardinghouse.
Bradley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Jewell on June 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have had the pleasure of eating at Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse several times, but the last time I was in Savannah, the lines were so long waiting to get in, we finally gave up! Years ago, she signed her first cookbook for me, and I have used it many times. I now have this new book, and find the instructions simple and easy to follow. This is the food most people in the South grew up eating, but recipes vary, and sometimes are not pasted down to a new generation. I treasure this book, and highly recommend it to new, and also to experienced cooks! Indeed, it is home style cooking made easier! B Jewell
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
`Mrs. Wilkes' Boardinghouse Cookbook' is a collection of recipes attributed to Sema Wilkes of dishes served at her famous Savannah boarding house (which no longer takes in boarders). The recipes are augmented by a series of articles on the history of the Wilkes family and the restaurant by John T. Edge, a widely and favorably recognized writer on southern culinary matters.

The most interesting aspect of the recipes in this book is that they are as much an interest as an historical record as they are a basis of culinary inspiration. The most interesting books with which to compare this work may be, for example, `Rome, at Home' by Suzanne Dunaway and the books on Sicilian cookery by writer/actor Vincent Schiavelli. The most similar book I have seen is Ms. Sally Ann Robinson's charming little book, `Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way'. A non-culinary comparison may be to a manual on how to do decorative painting in the style of the Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs. I say this only to enhance the value you can anticipate from this notable book.

This volume contains recipes for `Comfort Food Central'. Ask a hundred second generation Americans to name their top five favorite dishes and recipes for virtually all these dishes will be in this book. Main dishes include fried chicken, chicken cacciatore, roast beef, beef bourguignonne, meatballs, meatloaf, chop suey, corned beef and cabbage, and chili. This is the typical collection of both classic Southern dishes mixed with Americanizations of famous foreign dishes. All other types of dishes show a similar selection of favorites.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have over 100 cookbooks in my collection, so it is rare that I will sit down and read a new one cover-to-cover -- but that's exactly what I did last night with Mrs. Wilkes. Setting aside the recipes for a moment, her description of life in the South in my parents' era is priceless. Now for the food: also priceless! I've been searching for years for my great-aunt's recipe for Coconut Cake -- Mrs. Wilkes has it. My Mother never fixed Creamed Corn from scratch - but Mrs. Wilkes does. All those dishes you remember fondly from family reunions and favorite aunts - they're here! Mrs. Wilkes has them! Hurrah!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James Bentley on July 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the best money I have ever spent! The most delicious and easy recipes I have ever seen. I have hundreds of cookbooks and this is the one that stays out all the time. I cannot recommend this one enough. This lady can cook!!!!! You cannot go wrong with this one!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brooke Whigham on June 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In short - EXCELLENT! This cookbook is only outdown by the real thing. The pictures and stories accompanying the recipes lend to the feeling of being there and experiencing southern cooking with its history. Better than reading the book is visiting Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House. My husband and I just visited Savannah (May 2001), and we ate lunch at Mrs. Wilkes every day. The Pennsylvania Dutch-like atmosphere provided ample oppoturnity to meet people from all over the country - and the world - and see what brought them to Savannah. No eating experience compares to Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House, and I look forward to testing out her receipes, namely, her lima beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lisa N. Stansbury on December 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy the stories interlaced with the recipes in this book. I am looking forward to making pies, macaroni and cheese, and many of the other wonderful recipes in this cookbook. I think new cooks would find the recipes easy to follow, and everyone would find the stories entertaining.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed many meals at Mrs. Wilkes Boardinghouse during my six year tenure in beautiful Savannah, GA. I can't tell you how the atmosphere and family-style serving add to these wonderful recipes. You wouldn't think they could get any better, but you'd just have to go there and see for yourself! The experience just takes you back to another time. You're seated at large tables with other folks who've waited in line (that wraps around the corner and down the block on most days) right along with you. Then they bring out the food (there's no ordering, everyone gets the same thing) and it's passed family-style around the table. There is nothing like it. I highly recommend a visit to Mrs. Wilkes Boardinghouse which is located on Jones Street (between Bull and Tattnal Streets) in the heart of the historic district.
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